One of the best things you can do to make quick, healthy dinners more doable is to have some already-cooked chicken on hand. The stuff you buy ready-cooked at the grocery is loaded with salt, probably has corn syrup in it, and doesn’t taste all that great. Here is the simplest, lowest-hassle, and most delicious method I’ve found for make-ahead roasted chicken breasts.
If you want to be super efficient, make enough to stash for future use, plus enough for dinner tonight, and serve it straight out of the oven — it’s great on its own, too!
Recipe (really, just a method):
Roasted chicken breasts, to use in recipes
Bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts
Olive oil (about 1 teasp. per breast)
Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat the oven to 350 F.
Line a baking sheet with foil, and spray or oil it. Place the chicken breasts, skin side up, in the pan with an inch more more between them. Brush the tops liberally with olive oil, then lightly with salt and pepper, according to your taste. Place a meat thermometer 2″ into the fleshy part of the largest piece, trying not to hit bone. (Which would make the temperature misread.) Here’s my favorite brand of thermometer.
Bake uncovered until the internal temperature hits 165 F. If you don’t have an accurate thermometer, the skin should be a light golden-brown…
…but the juices should also run clear. To clearly see the color of the juices, slip a white dish under the edge of one breast and poke a hole just above it. Let some juice run into the dish, and look at it in good light. This test looked a little pink, so I stuck the chicken back in for about five minutes.
But also be careful not to overcook it! That’s what makes chicken tough and dry. If in doubt, pull it out a little on the underdone side. The outer and smaller parts of the chicken will probably be cooked through, with a little more pinkness in the center. Save the more-done pieces for salads and sandwiches; use the slightly underdone pieces for dishes that will get cooked some more, like soups, casseroles, and enchiladas.
If you’re serving the chicken right away, though, make sure that everything you serve is cooked through.
To store for future use, let chicken sit at room temp or in the fridge till it’s cool enough to handle. Pull off and discard the skin. Pull the chicken meat off the bone. Discard the bones. You can bag the meat and store as is, or cut into bite size pieces, or shred — whatever works for your use. Store in tightly covered containers or plastic bags.
The FDA says that cooked chicken can be kept three to four days in the fridge, or up to four months in the freezer.
Tomorrow I’ll post a round-up of six of my salad recipes that use chicken!